Could anyone have imagined the degree to which our world has become automated? From smartphones to fully automated data centers, we’ve experienced a technological revolution that has digitized everything from buying movie tickets to nearly all business processes. Ironically, the industry that has been the bedrock of it all, electronics manufacturing services (EMS), has not realized the same degree of innovation in their front-offices as they have pioneered on their shop floor.
A perfect illustration of this: EMS companies face a tremendous challenge in quoting quickly and accurately. Far too often, they either fail to submit their bids by a given deadline, or they rush to submit a quote and over- or under-price the offer.
Quoting is a complex and tedious process, from scrubbing customer bill of materials (BOMs), to waiting for suppliers to price hundreds of materials, estimating labor, allocating overhead, and determining markup. A simple mistake, in one of these variables, can lose the business, or worse, eliminate the profits from an otherwise profitable job. Either way, you lose. As a result, Contract Manufacturers (CM’s) often take more than a week to bid on a single RFQ, which may or may not fall under the customer’s given timeline.
How can Contract Manufacturers find a balance between accuracy and speed? How to reduce manual and tedious work from the start?
Everything starts with the customer. Contract Manufacturers rely on their customers to provide quality data at the beginning. Messy BOMs in various file formats, arranged in disorganized tables, with incomplete part numbers and/or outdated information, ultimately result in your time being spent on sunk-cost activities, and could even affect the end-user’s satisfaction with the final product. It’s the CM’s responsibility, as an expert in manufacturing, to help the buyer understand what information will be necessary to source materials for and build a quality assembly.
Provide BOM templates for formatting help, use online resources to help them choose active parts for the BOM, and provide a version of a Design for Manufacturing guide. Helping the customer with these best practices will be valuable to them by improving the RFQ response time and the quality of the assembled design.
Time for an automated approach
For electronics manufacturing services (EMS) companies, the landscape is evolving faster than ever. At the same time, contract manufacturers (CMs) are eager to position themselves to seize opportunities as they come. With similar services offered from one CM to the next, it is increasingly difficult to distinguish yourself from the competition.
EMS companies have found a few tools to help eliminate the manual data entry and increase speed. However, it is not uncommon to find a series of Excel spreadsheets used to maintain a customer BOM and price an RFQ. Keeping track of formulas with so many moving parts (no pun intended) is time-consuming, and too easy to make a mistake. In short, the process of coming up with an accurate bid in a timely fashion is no small feat.
Today’s manufacturing environment requires much more than a single system to solve a problem. Instead, an automated approach includes connectivity with their best solutions to allow more flexibility and adaptation. The right system(s) allow CMs to solve their most pressing challenges while adding additional benefits.
With the changing environment and the need for speed, new software systems are emerging.
FactoryLogix’s powerful BOM management capabilities enable users to quickly and efficiently scrub and validate the BOM regardless of the format provided by the customer. The system includes functions for associating internal build part numbers to the customer part numbers, comparing revisions to identify changes and parsing reference designators intelligently to find qty mismatches or variances from the design data provided. In just a few minutes a BOM is validated and is automatically passed from FactoryLogix to CalcuQuote.
CalcuQuote is an alternative to traditional quoting methods, offering an end-to-end quote management system that pulls supplier pricing and availability information in real-time, while using algorithms to accurately estimate labor and allocate overhead. What is normally an hours-long or days-long process is reduced to minutes with CalcuQuote. The final BOM is then passed to FactoryLogix with the list of purchased parts for the job. This automation eliminates the need for updating the work instructions manually to show the proper part numbers to be used, and/or will update the pick list appropriately if using the FactoryLogix material control system.
Though front office operations may lag a bit behind impressive manufacturing capabilities, EMS will soon modernize, employing new processes and efficiencies that will allow them to create steadier workflows and be more competitive. These innovations will ultimately save critical time and add greater assurance to bottom line margins.
How do you prove that you're the best-suited manufacturer for the job? How do you convince a customer that you deliver a better product and more value-added services than a nearby competitor? Increase your speed. Increase your accuracy.
Want to learn more about the integration with Factory Logix and CalcuQuote? Check out our joint press release
CalcuQuote is a comprehensive Quote Management System for high-mix, low-volume Electronics Manufacturing Services (EMS) companies. By integrating with major component suppliers and using custom labor profiles, CalcuQuote enables a sophisticated request for quote (RFQ) process that delivers quotes with unrivaled speed and accuracy. Learn more by visiting https://www.calcuquote.com or contact CalcuQuote directly for additional questions at [email protected] CalcuQuote – Made for EMS.
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